Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Seeds - A Web Of Sound

The Seeds
A Web Of Sound

Released 1967 on GNP/Crescendo
Reviewed by Dog 3000, 21/01/2003ce

The Seeds second album "A Web of Sound" is a MAJOR step forward in every area from their crude-to-the-bone debut. I mean, sure more than a couple of the songs here are still based on the primordial two-chord riff from their one big hit "Pushin' Too Hard", but at least this time they actually kinda sound like different songs because they have now learned to play choruses that have different chords than the verses!

First track "Mr. Farmer" was released as a single and just missed the top 40, and is certainly a lost classic from the summer of love. Lyrically clever, it puns on the band's name with "the seeds are starting to grow", contains a not-so-veiled drug reference (just what kind of "crops" is this farmer growing that Sky Saxon is so obsessed with helping to water and harvest them?), and also foreshadows the rustic movement in the hippy culture that would come a couple years later. Musically, Daryl Hooper has learned a new organ riff, simple but effectively snakey-trancey (for a variation he just plays the main riff an octave higher!) Sky's bass playing also gives it a nice thick bottom and kinda foreshadows Krautrock and Grand Funk by taking Beatle-isms and reducing them to their lowest common denominator.

Next track "Pictures and Designs" is basically another "Pushin'" retread but goes into new lyrical territory with the lysergic declaration "pictures and designs they flash my mind." The climax of this one is also a humdinger with overdriven organ and what sounds like a cranked guitar amp being kicked over, KABLOOIE! Shades of "White Light / White Heat" (a topic which we will return to on side two.)

Track three "Tripmaker" probably needs no explanation as far as the lyrics. Musically it's "Pushin' Too Hard" on amphetamines, with a Roland Kirk police whistle! Kudos to drummer Rick Andridge whose surf drum rolls really kick it up a notch.

Next are a couple sorta ballads, "I Tell Myself" which has a riff copped from "I Can Only Give You Everything" of Troggs/MC5 fame plus echoey slide guitar zooms. "A Faded Picture" which is . . . yes again, basically "Pushin Too Hard" but slower.

End of side one is "Rollin' Machine", another punny drug song. Little girl you know you want to ride my "rollin' machine" all night long, which is explicitly a car but implicitly one of those doodads you use to roll joints: "I'm gonna take you to the land of dreams, places that you've never seen, make you feel so good so high, make you fell like you never gonna die!" Musically it's "Pushin Too Hard" as carnival music, so twirl twirl twirl lil hippy girl.

Side two is where things get really heavy: "Just Let Go" builds from circus organ vs. fuzz guitar into a full-on frenzied freakout with Hooper sitting on his keyboard with amp cranked to 11, the bass & drums galloping and Sky demented and breathless shouting "justa justa justa, just let yourself go!"

Then the climax: "Up In Her Room" which goes on for a full 14-and-a-half minutes. Lyrically it's basically Van Morrison's "Gloria" plus drug entendres ("up in her womb" is more like it, snicker!)

But the real interesting thing about "Up In Her Room" is that I SWEAR it was Lou Reed's blueprint for "Sister Ray" which came out later in the year. The way it takes a primordial riff and just keeps it going, going, going as the singer rants about sex and drugs as gradually, almost subliminally the instruments get louder and more distorted and the tempo creeps up until by the end you are enslaved to the "web of sound" as virginal hippy maidens twirl through your brain with dilated pupils and the room is spinning and Sky says it feels so good, we floatin' away, said he wanna shouta, a shouta, a shout all night! a sha la la! The organ drowns everything out and the singer loses his command of language, but he never shuts up for a second! sha la la feel so good sha la la ah said uh sha la la feel so good! . . . pure ecstasy, and by about the 12th minute in the organ is distorting like mad and it starts to sound almost EXACTLY like "Sister Ray"! All Lou did was exchange the good time lyrics for some supremely bad vibes, and to shut up now and then for some instrumental passages. OK, and the Velvets version also goes from loud to louder instead of from normal volume to loud, probably because they had two guitar players instead of just one.

Supremely heavy organic psych-rock with snotty leerics to corrupt any upright citizen's daughter and none of the fruity flower power stuff they would later fall into, this album represents The Seeds finest moment.

Note: in the late 1980's GNP/Crescendo re-released "A Web of Sound" as part of a 2-fer with their first album "The Seeds."

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